After three full power Freestyle events in the 2022 season, Mikaili Sol and Gianmaria Coccoluto were crowned as the Qatar Airways GKA Freestyle-Kite World Champions on Saturday 12th November in Taiba, Brazil.
Following earlier events in Salinas del Rey, and Neom, Saudi Arabia, the Copa Kitley GKA Freestyle-Kite World Cup Brazil was one of the most hotly contested and thrilling encounters ever seen in kiteboarding between the world’s top riders at what is most likely the best freestyle spot in the world.
Over the course of three days of action we saw world first manoeuvres dropped in competition for the first time, while the general level of riding at this event was at a jaw dropping level throughout.
Maxime Chabloz summed up best how the butter flat water and smooth 18 – 22 knot wind conditions made for the ultimate throwdown: “The level is insane. There’s nothing affecting a rider’s performance except their own skills. It’s just so good. Thank you to everyone who made this happen – Kitley and the Qatar Airways GKA Kite World Tour; just thank you.”
Brazilians Manoel Soares and Mikaili Sol were in the driving seats for the male and female titles respectively coming into the event. Having won both previous events this season, Manoel needed only to reach the semi-final stage for his first title, while Mikaili was looking for a top three finish to be assured of her sixth world championship.
Once the action began, however, it was clear that with every competitor able to perform to their maximum, anything could happen.
Follow the event as it unfolded in the daily highlight videos below:
COPA KITLEY GKA-FREESTYLE KITE WORLD CUP BRAZIL
WOMEN’S FINAL RESULTS:
1 Mikaili Sol (BRA) 31.67 heat score
2 Bruna Kajiyal (BRA) 27.98 heat score
3 Rita Arnaus (ESP) 26.70 heat score
4 Nathalie Lambrecht (SWE) 23.53 heat score
COPA KITLEY GKA-FREESTYLE KITE WORLD CUP BRAZIL
MEN’S FINAL RESULTS:
1 Gianmaria Coccoluto (ITA) 32.83 heat score
2 Maxime Chabloz (SUI) 32.47 heat score
3 Erick Anderson (BRA) 31.53 heat score
4 Carlos Mario (BRA) 27.27 heat score
FINAL CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS 2022
2022 QATAR AIRWAYS GKA FREESTYLE-KITE WOMEN’S WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP
1 Mikaili Sol (BRA) 2.870 points
2 Bruna Kajiya (BRA) 2.440 points
3 Rita Arnaus (ESP) 2.310 points
2022 QATAR AIRWAYS GKA FREESTYLE-KITE MEN’S WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP
1 Gianmaria Coccoluto (ITA) 2.470 points
2 Manoel Soares (BRA) 2.420 points
3 Carlos Mario (BRA) 2.070 points
Women’s World Champion: Mikaili Sol (BRA)
Retaining her title to become the Qatar Airways GKA Freestyle-Kite Women’s World Champion 2022, Mika won two of the three events this season, is a truly dominant force in the sport at the moment and now has six kiteboarding world titles.
Already far enough ahead in the Taiba final to be assured of reclaiming her crown, Mika’s grabbed Stalefish Slim 5 on trick six had all of her most unique traits about it – full entry and exit power, technical brilliance and style, and scored a huge 9.0 from the judges, contributing to her commanding 31.67 overall heat score.
Men’s World Champion: Gianmaria Coccoluto (ITA)
Gianmaria Coccoluto’s chances of claiming his first world title here were stacked against him. Needing to win this event and hope that tour leader, Manoel Soares, somehow failed to reach the semi-final stage, the Italian produced a performance for the ages, demonstrating to the world exactly how freestyle kiteboarding should be performed.
Utilising the perfect conditions of Taiba, the Italian put on a spectacular and progressive display of riding throughout every heat and his performances included the highest heat score ever on the GKA Kite World Tour (since 2016), with 38.74 points from four tricks (including two tens) in the quarter final (against Soares). Although Maxime Chabloz came close to stealing the event win in the dying moments of the final, Gianmaria is the new and much deserving Qatar Airways GKA Freestyle-Kite Men’s World Champion, having proved himself as the ultimate freestyler in the ultimate location against the ultimate field.
2nd Place Women: Bruna Kajiya (BRA)
Three-time World Champion, Bruna Kajiya, still had an outside chance of re-claiming the world championship at this event if Mikaili Sol finished in fourth position or below. If that happened, Kajiya then also had to go on to win the event herself to take the title. At 35, Bruna is the veteran of the women’s fleet, but is widely acknowledge as the rider who inspired more female participation in this discipline when she became the first women to land a backside 315 in 2016.
Showing all the grit and composure that has propelled her to previous success, the Brazilian dug deep during another tight battle in the final against Rita Arnaus, pulling out a signature-sweet back mobe under pressure on the final trick to overtake the Spaniard and take second.
3rd Place Women: Rita Arnaus (ESP)
Ultra-consistent, the Spaniard follows up her vice world championship in 2021 with third on the podium this year. Having finished third on the podium at each event this season, her ability to perform across a range of different wind speeds and water conditions has again been her key strength.
2nd Place Men: Manoel Soares (BRA)
Thoughts must go out to local Manoel Soares who, after finishing fourth at the final event of last season here in Brazil, found a way onto the world tour, unsponsored, to compete at, and win, both previous 2022 Freestyle events this season.
Needing only to reach the semis to secure enough championship points for the title, he faced second ranked rider Gianmaria Coccoluto in the quarter final, as well as Valentin Garat and a local ripper with a huge reputation, Erick Anderson. All Gianmaria Coccoluto could do at this event was keep winning his heats and hope that Soares would trip up before reaching the semi finals if he was to have his own chance at the title.
The heat was stacked with firepower and threats to Manoel’s chances.
Soares led that quarter-final heat after two tricks, but started to slip as the Italian Coccoluto hit full beast mode without fear, scoring two nines and then two tens in succession that sent goosebumps through the crowd and left the judges in awe.
Having uncharacteristically caught a front edge on his third trick, Manoel started to look tense. He forced out a 319 and a 315 and then the backside 315 on his last trick attempt just wasn’t good enough to overtake in-form lagoon specialist, Erick Anderson, who went through to semis behind Coccoluto in second.
3rd Place Men: Carlos Mario (BRA)
Four time World Freestyle Champion and local hero, Carlos Mario, 23, is no stranger to claiming titles in this kiteboarding fortress and was an almost unbeatable force at the top of the sport between 2015 – 2018. During that time he introduced the now standard double handle-passes into top level competition. In reaching the final in Taiba, the ever-green Brazilian secured third place overall in the Championship, after a second in Colombia and seventh in Neom earlier this year.
Next event for the Freestylers is the opening round of the 2023 season at Fuwairit Kite Beach resort, Doha, Qatar from 31st January – 4th February.
For the Qatar Airways GKA Kite World Tour, the crew remain in Taiba, ready for the upcoming final round of the Kite-Surf and Hydrofoil-Freestyle events running 23 -27th November!
Words: Jim Gaunt
Photos: Svetlana Romantsova
Cameras: Julien Leleu & Diogo Cardoso
Video edits: Carlos Ortola